Late TD pass lifts Spartans past San Diego State

Late TD pass lifts Spartans past San Diego State
September 23, 2012, 6:42 am
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Number-wise, the SJSU football team should not have been competing for a win in the fourth quarter of Saturdays game against San Diego State. The Spartans, however, outscored the Aztecs 21-10 in the fourth to put a huge road win in its cap despite being outgained by 117 yards in the game. A touchdown pass from junior David Fales to junior wide receiver Chandler Jones with 50 seconds left in the game forced the lead to change hands for the fifth time in the fourth quarter and sealed the 34-31 SJSU victory, the first in San Diego in 60 years.
I cant say enough about how hard our kids played and how hard San Diego States kids played, SJSU head coach Mike MacIntyre said following the teams thrilling fourth-quarter victory. It was one of those games when both teams fought and fought and fought. It was an exciting game to watch and Im glad we came out on top but I tip my cap to how hard San Diego State fought and how well theyre coached.The fourth quarter began with the score at 24-17 in favor of San Diego State. Then began the offensive explosion by both teams. Just more than thirty seconds into the final quarter, Fales found junior wide receiver Noel Grigsby for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the score at 24. San Diego State reclaimed the lead with a 41-yard field goal by place kicker Chance Marden but then gave it up on SJSUs next drive on a 15-yard touchdown pass by Fales, this time to a senior tight end Ryan Otten, who had a 30-yard radius around him in the end zone without an Aztec in sight. One minute and two seconds before SJSUs eventual game-winning drive commenced, San Diego State began a drive that ended with the Aztecs believing they had just put together a game-winning drive of their own. San Diego State found the end zone with a four-play, 71 yard drive that was finished by a 40-yard touchdown pass from senior Ryan Katz to junior wide receiver Colin Lockett.This left 2:24 in the game, apparently giving plenty of time for SJSU to mount its final comeback to vault its record to 3-1.We knew what we could do, Fales said about the final quarter of play that saw so many lead changes. We said there was no other option but go down there and score and we did it both times. The Spartans were hurt badly throughout the game and especially in the second half by a prolific San Diego State running game. The Aztecs outgained the Spartans on the ground 271-77. They are slippery, theres just something about them that made them hard to bring down, said senior defensive end Travis Johnson. They got a play and we kept fighting, our defense kept coming out and stopping them and thats how we win games.Fales, who has been the teams most valuable offensive player this season, was 4-of-9 passing for just 28 yards in the first half. He turned in a 17-for-22 passing performance for 232 yards in the second half and completed his last 10 passes sprinkled through two come-from-behind drives. We just didnt have any rhythm going into any our drives, Fales said about the offenses first-half performance. We went back to making it simple, getting back to basics and getting some confidence.MacIntyre said adjustments made at halftime allowed Fales to get back into the rhythm he had been looking for in the first half.We were able to pick up their pressure, that was number one, MacIntyre said. The receivers were able to run great routes and boy can they catch.Both teams took an decent amount of time to get their offenses going. Each team punted twice on their first two possessions, but SJSU came up with a break on its second punt. Junior cornerback Damon Ogurn came up with a strip of San Diego State punt returner Tim Vizzi, who fumbled the ball and turned it over to freshman defensive end Tony Popovich. SJSU capitalized on the turnover but not to its fullest potential by converting a field goal to end a drive that began on San Diego States 28 yard line. The career-long 43-yard field goal by freshman kicker Austin Lopez opened the games scoring at the 4:01 mark in the first quarter. Trying to put points on the scoreboard, San Diego State ended a 36-yard drive with a fumble by Kazee at the SJSU 47 yard line. The Spartans looked to score on its second drive in a row and looked on its way to doing so after junior Blake Jurich connected with junior Chandler Jones on a 30-yard pass play. Two plays later, however, SJSU coughed up the ball up right back to the Aztecs after a fumble by senior fullback Ina Liaina on a 3rd and 1 play. Three plays after the fumble by Liaina, San Diego State found the end zone for the first time by either team with a huge 83-yard touchdown run by Muema. He shook at least two tackles at the line and was almost tripped up but stayed on his feet and went untouched after breaking through the line of scrimmage. Needing to respond to keep up with San Diego States momentum after the long touchdown run by Muema, SJSU broke through with a show-stopper of its own. Sophomore Tyler Ervin brought the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards, cutting and shedding a few tackles before finally riding the sideline to the house. The kickoff return was the eighth-longest kickoff return in SJSU history.Great blocks formed up and I just ran, Ervin said. We worked on it in practice. I made the cut, saw it was wide open so I just took it to the house.Down by three for the second time in the game, San Diego State took over on its own 25 yard line after a touchback and began a methodical drive to give itself the lead once again. An 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Kazee to give the Aztecs a 14-10 lead. Liaina made up for the fumble earlier by catching a one-yard touchdown pass from Fales. A field goal by Marden, the first of his career, tied the score at 17 apiece going into half time. MacIntyre said Saturday was an incredible win for the program. We have a lot of character in our program from our athletic director to our president on down to everyone who had worked with our association, he said. They all care about this place. Its a unique place and these kids are believing in it. Big deal today, a whole program win.

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